I’m on my period and noticed some small, dark red, sort of jelly-like balls in my pad the other day. What are those? Is that normal?

Great question! Those dark red, jelly-like balls you describe sound like blood clots. Having menstrual blood clots during your period is pretty common, and most of the time they’re nothing to worry about.

Menstrual blood clots are a mixture of coagulated (semi-solid) menstrual blood and tissue from your uterine lining. Usually, people get blood clots during their period when their flow is particularly heavy, often in the first day or two of their period. They can be bright red, dark red or even black.

Menstrual blood clots in the same way that blood clots in other parts of your body.

When you get a cut, for example, proteins in your blood work to form clots to plug the cut and keep you from losing too much blood.

During your period, menstrual blood pools at the bottom of your uterus before leaving your body through your cervix and vagina. To make this easier, your body releases anticoagulants. These are proteins that prevent the blood from turning semi-solid and forming blood clots. If your flow is especially heavy, the blood may be leaving your body faster than the anticoagulants can be released. This is when clots form.

Like we said, most of the time menstrual blood clots are completely normal and nothing to worry about. However, sometimes clots can be a sign of a medical condition, like endometriosis.

Talk to your health care provider if:

  • The blood clots are larger than a quarter.
  • You get blood clots very frequently.
  • You bleed enough that you need to change your pad, tampon or menstrual cup more than once every 2 hours.
  • Your period is very painful, and can’t be managed with over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen.

It’s normal to have a heavy period with blood clots one month, and a light period with no clots the next. Some people never get blood clots, while others get them fairly regularly. Every body is different!

If you’re 10-22 years old in NYC and have more questions about your body or want to talk to a health care provider about your period, call (212) 423-3000 to make a confidential appointment at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, at no cost to you.